Greece Golden Dawn: Neo-Nazi leaders guilty of running crime gang

October 9, 2020

After a trial lasting more than five years, the leadership of Greece’s neo-Nazi party has been convicted of running a criminal organisation.
Big crowds gathered outside the court in Athens as the judges gave verdicts on 68 defendants.
Golden Dawn secured 18 MPs in 2012, as Greeks were battered by a financial crisis.
The criminal inquiry into the party began with the murder of an anti-fascist musician in 2013.
Leader Nikos Michaloliakos and six colleagues were convicted of heading a criminal group. Supporter Giorgos Roupakias was found guilty of murdering an anti-racist musician and 15 others were convicted of conspiracy in the case.
Some 2,000 police were deployed around Athens Appeals Court as thousands of protesters demanded long jail terms, carrying banners that read “fear will not win” and “Nazis in prison”, Greek media reported.
Tear gas was fired into the crowd as some of the protesters clashed with police and threw petrol bombs.
People gather outside the Athens courthouse, as they wait for the verdict of the trial of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), in Athens
Eleven of the defendants were in the court when the verdict was read out, along with 50 attorneys and 50 journalists.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the verdict was an important day for democracy and proof that Greek institutions were able to “fend off any attempt to undermine them”.
Hundreds of witnesses gave evidence in the trial, which was delayed this year by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Who was on trial?
At the centre of the trial are Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and 18 ex-MPs who were elected in 2012 when the neo-Nazi party came third in national elections on an anti-immigrant, nationalist platform. Golden Dawn no longer has any MPs in parliament.
After they won almost 7% of the vote in May 2012, emboldened supporters attacked political opponents and migrants.
Golden Dawn supporter Giorgos Roupakias had already confessed to the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The musician was chased down by thugs and stabbed in Piraeus in September 2013.
As the verdict was delivered, Fyssas’s mother Magda cried out, “My Pavlos defeated them alone!”.
What were the verdicts?
The key verdict on Wednesday was that Golden Dawn – Chrysi Avgi in Greek – was a criminal group. Its leadership was found guilty of running it.
They included Michaloliakos and six former MPs – Ilias Kasidiaris, Ioannis Lagos, Christos Pappas, Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Ilias Panagiotaros and Giorgos Germenis. The other ex-MPs were found guilty of joining a criminal organisation.
Magda Fyssa, mother of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was murdered in 2013 by a member of Golden Dawn, reacts at the announcement of the ultra-right party Golden Dawn’s (Chrysi Avgi) verdict.
The three judges, led by Maria Lepeniotou, were due to deliver sentencing later.
As well as the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, defendants in the trial were also convicted of other violent attacks on migrants and left-wing political opponents.
Photo dated on June 24, 2012 of Pavlos Fyssas. The 34-year-old was fatally stabbed in the working-class Athens district of Keratsini early on September 18, 2013
Five Golden Dawn members were convicted of the attempted murders of Egyptian fishermen and four of the attempted murder of communist activists in the PAME union.
As the Golden Dawn leaders were convicted, very few inside the room applauded but outside thousands began to celebrate.
I felt very satisfied, of course. Because I knew the facts revealed during those five and a half years, and I was always optimistic.
From 2010, Golden Dawn had managed to poison the Greek political system and democratic institutions, securing contacts with the army, the police, the judiciary and the Church.
It is an excellent verdict.
Short presentational grey line
Who is their leader?
Nikos Michaloliakos founded the movement in the mid-1980s and was admirer of Nazism and a Holocaust denier, giving the Hitler salute at party rallies.
But he had always denied any knowledge of the Pavlos Fyssas murder. When police raided his home in 2013, they found weapons and ammunition.
Golden Dawn officially denied being a neo-Nazi movement, but its badge closely resembled a swastika, some senior members praised Adolf Hitler, and the clothing of choice at anti-immigrant protests was black T-shirts and combat trousers.
Witnesses told the trial that members were trained to handle weapons and used Nazi symbols.
Greece’s Golden Dawn: ‘Don’t say a word or I’ll burn you alive’
Jail fails to deter Greek far right
Greek bailout crisis in 300 words
Last December, chief prosecutor Adamantia Economou prompted uproar, with a call for the party officials to be cleared, arguing there was no evidence they had any part in planning or carrying out the series of attacks.
How has Greece reacted
There has been disgust at Golden Dawn across the political spectrum in Greece.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would not normally comment on court decisions but said the Greek republic had first expelled Golden Dawn from parliament and now Greece’s independent judiciary had acted too. “Democracy won today. It is up to us that it wins every day,” he said.
The verdict was praised as “just” and “historic” by Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was president of Greece until earlier this year.
Centre-left political leader Fofi Gennimata said the decision sent a strong message to Europe that “fascism has no place in our lives”.
Nils Muiznieks of Amnesty International also said the trial sent a clear message: that “violent and racist criminal activity – whether perpetrated by individuals on the street or members of parliament – will not go unpunished”.
Meanwhile, the Jewish cemetery in Athens was daubed this week with anti-Semitic graffiti and Nazi slogans, prompting condemnation from Greek ministers and the Jewish community.
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ICELAND AMBASSADOR MEETING ‘CONSTRUCTIVE’ OVER CIRCUMCISION BILL SAYS JEWISH ASSOCIATION HEAD

Meeting in Brussels paves the way for European Jewish Association to make case against the Bill in Icelandic Parliament in weeks ahead

In what was described by European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Margolin as a “fruitful and constructive” meeting with Her Excellency Mrs. Bergdís Ellertsdóttir at the Icelandic Embassy in Brussels today, the Ambassador said that the Circumcision Bill was not a government backed initiative.  

The Ambassador and her deputy also suggested that Rabbi Margolin should continue dialogue and make the case against the Bill at the Parliament in Iceland, an offer that will be taken up in the weeks ahead.

Speaking after today’s meeting Rabbi Margolin said:

“The Ambassador had a very common-sense and pragmatic approach to this issue, and her words were very re-assuring. It is clear from this meeting that this is a party-led initiative and not one that enjoys the initiative or direct support of the Icelandic Parliament as a whole. This on it’s own is a good start.

‘It is our intention is to dialogue directly with Icelandic Parliamentarians and with the Committee responsible in Iceland in the short weeks ahead.

‘Our expressed concern to the Ambassador is the origin of such legislation, given that it only affects, at best 3 Icelandic children per year who would be circumcised for the purposes of the Jewish faith. Why is a such a bill is even required in the first place? It reeks of the type of populism that is all too sadly manifesting itself across the European Continent at the present time. Her Excellency assured us that our remarks would be reported directly back to the Government in Iceland

“The import of such legislation ever becoming law is that it sets precedence for other European nations, and normalises the branding of the entire Jewish population as “criminals” for performing this important, vital and precious rite of ours. It cannot and will not be allowed to happen.” 

To watch a video of Rabbi Margolin speaking about the meeting click on the picture.

ilmetropolitano.it

Israele: in Italia e Ungheria, la miglior qualità di vita per gli ebrei europei

Il quotidiano Israeliano The Jerusaleme Post, ci ha fatto sapere che fra tutti i paesi dell’Unione Europea, Italia e Ungheria offrono agli Ebrei una qualità di vita migliore, mentre Polonia, Belgio e Francia sono in fondo alla lista.

I dati raccolti provengono dall’Istituto di Ricerca Politica di Londra, che sono stati resi noti nella giornata di ieri a Budapest, alla conferenza annuale dell’Associazione degli ebrei di Europa. Si tratta di uno studio durato due anni di Daniel Statsky.

Questi studi prendono in considerazione, fattori antropologici e sociali come: la lotta all’antisemitismo, la sicurezza della comunità ebraica locale, la libertà di culto, lo sviluppo della cultura ebraica, il ricordo della Shoah e l’adozione della definizione di antisemitismo dell’Ihra (l’Alleanza internazionale sul ricordo dell’Olocausto), nonché l’impostazione del voto di ciascun Paese nelle mozioni ONU su Israele (Fonte: Ansa.it).

Israele: in Italia e Ungheria, la miglior qualità di vita per gli ebrei europei

Europe: Synagogues sold for next to nothing

In Eastern Europe, historic synagogues are sold for the price of a used car.

On a visit to the city of Slonim in Belarus, Ilona Reeves fell in love with a 380-year-old dilapidated building that used to house one of the area’s largest and oldest synagogues.
Reeves, a 40-year-old author who lives in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, is a Christian, like virtually everyone who lives in the country. And the synagogue hadn’t been operational since before the Holocaust, when three quarters of Slonim residents were Jewish. Virtually all were murdered by the Nazis.
Still, Reeves looked at the structure, which had fallen into disrepair after years of use as shops, and saw something she wanted to save.
On a visit to the city of Slonim in Belarus, Ilona Reeves fell in love with a 380-year-old dilapidated building that used to house one of the area’s largest and oldest synagogues.
Reeves, a 40-year-old author who lives in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, is a Christian, like virtually everyone who lives in the country. And the synagogue hadn’t been operational since before the Holocaust, when three quarters of Slonim residents were Jewish. Virtually all were murdered by the Nazis.
Still, Reeves looked at the structure, which had fallen into disrepair after years of use as shops, and saw something she wanted to save.

“Standing outside the Great Synagogue of Slonim, I felt how small I am, we all are, in the face of such architectural monuments and traditions they represent,” she said.
With money that she’d freed up by selling her apartment in Minsk — partly to buy the synagogue — Reeves bought the synagogue in December for about $10,000 from the Slonim municipality on the promise that she restore it. She was the sole bidder.
The Slonim synagogue is just one of a number of similar structures to hit the market across Eastern Europe in recent years, and Reeves is among a small group of people who have committed to their upkeep.
“Buildings, including old buildings, that used to be synagogues appear on the market pretty regularly in Eastern Europe, and for relatively affordable prices,” said Michael Mail, founder of the UK-based Foundation for Jewish Heritage, which helps restore historic Jewish structures across Europe.
“But there’s often a catch, which is that restoration is complicated and costly,” Mail added.
Reeves knows that firsthand. She is now working on raising $2 million for the restoration project, which she hopes will take a decade but some professionals have told her might go on for 25 years.
The city of Vitebsk, located about 130 miles farther northeast of Minsk, recently offered essentially for free the hollowed remains of the Great Lubavitch Synagogue — where the family of the painter Marc Chagall used to pray — to anyone willing to restore it.
In 2016, a coffee shop called Synagoga Café opened in the old synagogue of Trnava, Slovakia. A non-Jewish contractor, Si­mon Ste­funko, bought the crumbling building some years earlier, renovated it according to the city’s strict preservation requirements and reopened it as an upscale hangout.
Financially, creating Synagoga Café didn’t make any sense, Stefunko said. The renovations cost millions of dollars that the coffee shop didn’t begin to mitigate even before it was shuttered last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. But he did it anyway “so something would remain from the Jewish community here,” Stefunko said. “I think it’s beautiful.”
The offloading of restoration costs represents the latest strategy for managing a glut of historical Jewish structures that have fallen into disrepair since most of Europe’s Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
Before the genocide, Europe had an estimated 17,000 synagogues. Only about 3,300 of the structures remain standing today. Among those, only 776, or 23%, are being used as synagogues, according to the Foundation for Jewish Heritage.
Most of the surviving synagogues are located in Eastern Europe, where most of the structures that remained standing were nationalized following World War II by communist authorities who were anti-religious and often anti-Semitic.
Decimated by the Holocaust and the wave of emigration that followed the fall of communism, Jewish communities in places like Slonim and Vitebsk had virtually disappeared, leaving their former institutions in government hands.
In Belarus, which has a dictatorship with no laws for restitution of confiscated Jewish property, many of these structures were listed for protection by local authorities that lack the resources to restore them.
Making structural changes to buildings that are listed for protection is difficult and often illegal, requiring special permission from the state or municipality. The protected status often brings down the market price of the buildings because developers have no way of turning a profit by purchasing them.
But many buildings that had housed historical synagogues in Eastern Europe are not listed, meaning once they are sold to private owners they can be altered and even demolished.
The former Great Synagogue in the small town of Ostrino, in western Belarus, is on sale in an auction where the minimum bid is about $40. The new owner will face some requirements to preserve it, but may use parts as a warehouse or residential unit.
And in 2019, a 19th-century building that once was a synagogue in the village of Porazava, near Slonim, was sold for $6,000 to be used as a warehouse.
Similar situations occur also in Western Europe. In 2018, a 200-year-old synagogue in the city of Deventer, in the eastern Netherlands, became a restaurant after its upkeep became unaffordable to the local community, which includes a handful Jews.
Local governments in Eastern Europe have given back many properties that communist regimes had confiscated from Christian and Jewish faith communities.
Christian communities have been able to reclaim, restore or trade up many of the structures returned to them, sometimes with funding from the Vatican and the Orthodox Church.
Similar movement has also happened with some properties given back to local Jews, though with far less deep pockets of support.
In 2002, the municipality of Babruisk in eastern Belarus handed back to the local Jewish community a former synagogue that had been used as an army warehouse and later a tailor shop. The building, the only one of the city’s 42 synagogues still standing, was restored and inaugurated as a synagogue thanks to the fundraising efforts of an energetic local rabbi, Shaul Hababo.
In Moldova, Rabbi Shimshon Izakson is hoping to pull off a similar transformation at the former Rabbi Yehuda Ţirilson yeshiva and synagogue compound — a massive complex in downtown Chisinau that is so dilapidated that only the external walls remain.
But other times, Jewish communities that inherited historic former synagogues stolen from them when they were much larger were not able or willing to preserve them to the satisfaction of their own members.
Earlier this month, a massive chunk of the roof of the 18th-century Great Synagogue of Brody in western Ukraine collapsed. Another part of the building, which is government-owned and listed as a monument for preservation, imploded in 2006. Severely damaged in World War II by German troops who tried to blow it up, what remains of the synagogue is held up by structural scaffolding. No Jews live today in Brody, which used to have thousands of Jewish residents.
The Jewish community of Satu Mare in northern Romania consists of about 100 members. Following restitution negotiations in the 1990s, it owns an impressive 129 cemeteries and four synagogues, which are falling into disrepair because the community cannot afford to maintain them.
“In truth, this building is a drain on our resources, as are the hundreds of graves we need to preserve and fence,” Paul Decsei, the community’s pointman for managing the assets, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2017 from inside the city’s main synagogue, the Decebal Street Synagogue, an imposing but crumbling 19th-century structure. “But on the other hand, we can’t walk away from any of it. It’s our heritage and we have a responsibility toward it.”
That has also been the case with the Chevra Tehilim prayer house in Krakow, Poland. In 2016, the community-owned structure, which features culturally significant decorations on its walls, was leased by the Jewish Community of Krakow and reopened as a trendy nightclub called Hevre, despite protests by some community members who said it ruined the structure.
Reeves, who bought the building in Slonim before she had even seen its interior, cited its beauty as her reason to go ahead and make the purchase. She envisions a cultural or community space where Judaism would have a prominent place.
As a practicing churchgoer who grew up during communism, Reeves’ decision was rooted in her religious sentiment.
“I’ve always had a dream to build a church. Even a small, wooden one,” Reeves, a mother of one son, told JTA. “With the Slonim synagogue project, it feels like I’m halfway there. Or perhaps I’ve already met the goal.”

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel

A Jewish cemetery in Belgrade, Serbia was vandalized Wednesday night, when an axe, hammer and stones were thrown through the window of its chapel.
A spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Belgrade told The Algemeiner that the incident had caused serious material damage, noting that if the chapel had been occupied, it could have resulted in “severe physical injuries or even death.”
The spokesperson said that “this act reminds us of Kristallnacht,” the Nazi-led riots against the German Jewish community in 1938.
On Thursday, European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote to Serbia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a full investigation.

“It is clear that whoever was responsible has no respect for the dead, never mind the living,” Margolin said in a statement. “We extend our support to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Belgrade and Serbia as a whole, who must be reeling at this attack, and feeling vulnerable.”

“I have written to Serbian minister of Internal Affairs asking for a robust response to the attack, as well as a full throated condemnation, lest the antisemites that carried out this act believe that it is now open season on Jewish buildings in Serbia.”

The vandalism is the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents to hit the Belgrade Jewish community. The Jewish Community told The Algemeiner of repeated antisemitic harassment against a prominent Jewish epidemiologist, including graffiti that compared him to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, as well as demonstrations outside the epidemiologist’s home in which demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David.
Threats of a second Holocaust have also been received at the Community’s Facebook page, as well as Nazi symbols, antisemitic emails, and other threats.

Axe Thrown Through Window of Belgrade Jewish Cemetery Chapel


 

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